Oliver Stone's W Completes Casting, Starts Filming
In what will surely be one of the more talked about films of 2008, Oliver Stone's W. has begun shooting in Shreveport, Louisiana and, as of today, has a complete cast. We've learned this week that the wonderfully talented Richard Dreyfuss (seen above) is in final negotiations to fill the last major role on the film - that of Vice President Dick Cheney. Following up on our previous rundown of the cast as well, Toby Jones will officially play Karl Rove instead of the rumored Paul Giamatti, while Scott Glenn fills in as Donald Rumsfeld instead of the rumored Tommy Lee Jones. Now that the cast is complete and filming is underway, will it live up to all of the hype?
Despite the gravitas of the subject matter and cast, the production seems a tad light in the pants. As EW reported in their cover story of the production, part of Stone's motivation for the project stems from the idea that it could be made "fast and relatively cheap." In fact, the film's budget is estimated at a measily $30 million, and is slated for completion by October of this year - just five short months, and just in time for the elections. Is it just me, or does this feel like an opportunistic drive-by? And does the fact that Stone got a waiver from the Screen Actors Guild to continue his production in the face of possible strikes mean anything? I've heard these passes are usually granted to indie films and not exactly in high numbers.
Confirming some of my suspicions, Stone, in fact, this past Sunday told the Telegraph that this film will not be made in the same heavy, studied vein as his 1995 Nixon. "It's not as psychologically heavy. Nixon was more ambitious in scope and time. This is more of a soufflé." Really!? A soufflé!? Stone is basically saying that W. is a light, fluffy, puffed-up affair that is about as stable as a house of cards. I think some folks have already thought this about the film, but it is interesting that Stone let such a categorization slip.
So is W. really going to make any waves? Notice I haven't even mentioned the widely reported issues with the script. Because of Bush's very controversial history, I think most naturally assume a film on the 43rd President would generate equal amounts of contention. Yet it seems the film may actually just turn out to be the dessert that punctuates Bush's presidency - one that, however tasty, is soft, weak and ultimately falls flat. Am I right about this one?